In 2012, Denise Lee was training for her first marathon and went out in search of activewear. She wanted to find modern and sleek styles that were similar to the contemporary designers she wore in her everyday wardrobe — but she quickly realized what she wanted wasn’t available.
Noticing this void in the marketplace led her to create her own brand, Alala, inspired by the Greek goddess of the same name. Alala is a luxury workout brand that is now carried in over 100 major retailers including Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Shopbop. The brand offers bold, sophisticated designs that are not just limited to activewear, but can also be worn outside the gym and transitioned from day to night.
In her conversation with Monica, Denise discuses what it’s like to launch a digital brand, the role of retail in the business plan, whether founders should take funding or bootstrap, and what both Monica and Denise wish they knew when starting their businesses.
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“If you want to start a business, you should be disciplined enough to sit down and plan it out.” – Denise Lee
- The details of her brand Alala
- How people discover the brand
- The role of wholesale in the business
- The team behind Alala
- How Denise’s role has changed as the company has grown
- What makes the Alala team special
- The challenges of scaling
- What challenges the team is trying to conquer
- How Alala built a small design team
- The benefits of being self-funded and why that might change
- What is next for Alala
“We try to take every opportunity we can to get to know our customer better and have her get to know the brand better.” – Denise Lee
- Shop Alala activewear
- Connect with Denise:
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“I set the vision for what we want, but our team takes it and works it in their own special way.” – Denise Lee